3 Things Youth Soccer Players Should Focus On
The youth soccer scene in the U.S. is thriving and flourishing. The game continues to pick up popularity at different levels. From town to travel to club soccer, there is a league for everyone!
Although soccer is played mostly from the waist-down, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you ignore your entire body and mind.
If you are looking to get better, here are three things to focus on as you progress in your athletic career.
Improve Your Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is a critical aspect for players to improve their soccer performance. A healthy body can provide the edge and stamina to maximize a player’s skills.
Cardiovascular endurance and fitness are crucial fitness attributes for soccer players. We recommend focusing on increasing your cardiovascular health and aerobic stamina first. Other things to focus on are:
- Improve muscle tone
- Lower body fat
- Build flexibility and strength
Depending on the age of the player, physical exercise should be introduced appropriately. For example, a 10-year old should not be lifting heavy weights as their body’s and muscles are still developing.
The primary aspect of plyometric training is learning how to make powerful and controlled movements while resting between them. Plyometrics positively influence players’ ability to change direction, sprint and jump.
Make Quick and Informed Decisions
No matter how skillful a soccer player is, they have to always be ready mentally. Decisiveness is one of the intangibles that separates good from great players.
Making informed, quick, and efficient decisions on the field are a critical characteristic of a soccer player to achieve superior performance. Because soccer can be taxing mentally, players who make decisions quicker than their opponent will have an edge. In many cases, players will need to make 3 or more decisions in a 30-second window during a game.
One of the best ways to practice making decisions quickly is during the course of the day. Everyday we are presented with many choices. Encourage your child to make decisions on their own. Do they want cereal or eggs for breakfast? Make a choice. Do they prefer to buy black or white socks? Make a choice.
Develop a Positive Mindset
A positive mindset is vital for any young athlete. Developing a positive mindset may not feel natural for some but it can improve performance. Players with a growth mindset (over fixed mindset) will have a greater chance of getting better over time. These players understand that, with hard work, they will improve their skills.
In any sport, the season has its ups and downs. Maybe the team just lost four games in a row. Maybe the coach wasn’t happy because you weren’t paying attention. Maybe you are injured and missing a couple weeks during the fall season. Whatever the situation could be, having a strong, positive mindset can help you overcome it.